Saturday, November 1, 2008

Halloween II (1981)

Directed by:
Rick Rosenthal

Quite a step down from the classic original (no big shocker there), this first sequel seems more in tune with any of the mean-spirited, nasty, gory slasher offspring that the original spawned than it does with the haunting, subtle and almost elegant first film. While the original concentrated more on building suspense via methodical stalking sequences and a completely ambiguous killer, who could be either a straight-up madman or the essence of pure evil on two legs, this one seems more interested in upping the body count than anything else. It also makes the crucial mistake of trying to explain the "evil" behind Myers by linking him to the lead heroine. Suddenly, now Michael and Laurie are siblings and he wants to "complete" his original crime since it was cut short after he took six bullets and did a swan dive off a second-floor balcony in Part 1. Regardless, H2 is still somewhat better than most other slashers from its era, thanks to solid performances, a few decent jump scares and some creative murder scenes.

After a re-cap of the finale of the first film and some groovy opening credits, injured Laurie (a catatonic Jamie Lee Curtis) is rushed off to the hospital while psychiatrist Donald Pleasence and local sheriff Charles Cyphers continue their frantic search for the missing Myers. Of course, Michael (Dick Warlock) eventually manages to track Curtis down and quickly kills off the entire hospital night staff on his way to finishing his earlier crime. A guard gets a hammer to the head, IV tubes are used to drain a nurse’s blood, needles are stuck in eyeballs and skin is melted off a nurse's face with scalding water. The lamest "death" (which wasn't intended to be a death but comes across that way in the original theatrical cut) occurs when an orderly (Lance Guest) slips in blood and conks his head on the floor. Even though Michael is stabbed, has both of his eyes shot out with a pistol and is blown up, he managed to regenerate and return in Parts 4-8. Pleasence is blown up, too, and is back in parts 4-6. I guess you just can't keep a good money-making franchise down.
The cast includes Pamela Susan Shoop (doing a popular topless scene) as nurse Karen, Nancy Stephens (returning from the first film), Jeffrey Kramer, Leo Rossi and Cliff Emmich. Nancy Loomis has a quick cameo as a dead body and look fast for a pre-Saturday Night Live Dana Carvey as a coroner's assistant. John Carpenter wrote the screenplay (with Debra Hill), co-produced (again with Hill) and did the music again.


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